Where are the Three Days?

post date: March 12, 2013

The New Testament is clear that Jesus rose on the third day. Some people are troubled by the fact that if Jesus was crucified on Friday afternoon and raised on Sunday morning, then he could not have been in the ground for 72 hours.

However, this is not a problem since the Jews had a custom of referring to any part of the day as the full day. We do the same thing in informal conversation: “I saw her last night” doesn’t necessarily you were with her all night long. It means at some point in the evening, you saw her. “I’ll see you tomorrow” doesn’t mean that you’ll spend all day with me. It means that some time tomorrow, you’ll see me and we’ll talk. That’s a common converational idiom that people routinely use.

The Jews did the same thing. For them, any part of the day could count as the whole day.

Jesus was crucified on Friday afternoon. That’s Day 1.
He was in the tomb on Saturday. That’s Day 2.
He was raised on Sunday morning. That’s Day 3.

This means that Jesus was dead and buried for around 36 hours. But since those hours covered parts of three days, they count as the same as the whole. 

So there is no biblical problem with Jesus being crucified on Friday and raised on Sunday. See Were the Three Days and Three Nights a Full 72 Hours? 


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